In a perfect of marriage of millennial pop culture and modern tech, the original 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) cartoon is said to be entering the NFT space this spring. @TMNTNFT dropped the news in a Twitter clip which included an animation of toxic ooze, the origin of the ninja turtles in the series. However, there is some stirring controversy over the legitimacy of this Twitter account.
In 1984 TMNT debuted as an original comic book published by Mirage Studios. While TMNT was intended as a spoof of the then popular superhero genre, the wacky premise of genetically altered ninja turtles was a surprise hit. Mirage licensed TMNT characters to Playmates Toys which sold about $1.1 billion USD of TMNT toys between 1988 and 1992. The franchise grew to include several cartoons, movies, and video games.
What’s curious is that the NFT Twitter account has no apparent affiliation with Viacom (owner of Nickelodeon/Paramount Pictures), which is believed to have bought the entirety of the TMNT franchise in 2009. Instead @TMNTNFT asserts that they own the rights to the 1987 Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, as if it is separate from Paramount Picture’s TMNT franchise. This discrepancy caused for a call out from @rugpullfinder, an account that exposes crypto scams publicly. @rugpullfinder publicly labeled the account as a scam inspiring others to delve into researching the history of the brand’s IP rights.
A Question of Verification
@TMNTNFT, which has amassed over 50 thousand followers since joining Twitter in February, responded to the fraud accusation. On Tuesday March 29th @TMNTNFT promised future verification of their ownership rights.
Let’s make it clear: we own the NFT digital rights of the Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson and IDDH (Poly Productions/Squemme).
We are all a big family but not affiliated to @RecurForever!
Spread the word! Cowabunga!
— TMNT NFT (@tmntnft) March 29, 2022
Accumulating over 300 thousand views on their announcement video, @TMNTNFT has much to gain if and when they do drop legitimate NFT’s. Thousands of excited and nostalgic cryptocurrency enthusiasts commented on their posts in support of the project. The comments turned to dismay and distrust overnight after the scam accusations came out.
Recur, pop-culture NFT producer which also produces TMNT NFT’s with IP rights from Viacom, expects that @TMNTNFT will dissolve soon. Trevor George, Co-Founder of Recur, has tweeted proposing that legal action will be taken against @TMNTNFT saying “Paramount/ViacomCBS is issuing a taking down…bye bye TMNTNFT”.
Digital currency hacks and scams are continuously developing to exploit consumers. It seems that with each new business option there comes a slew of swindlers ready to take advantage of it. In these times it's understandable for one to be cautious of @TMNTNFT even if the accusations made by @rugpullfinder hold no water.
In fact, NFT-based battle game Axie Infinity experienced a huge hack this week that cost users millions. The Ronin Network, an Ethereum sidechain built specifically for the game, suffered a breach resulting in a loss of over $625 million in USDC and ether (ETH). Ronin is currently working with government agencies to catch the perpetrators and communicating with Axie Infinity/Sky Mavis stakeholders to ensure no user funds are permanently lost.
Making good on their promise, @TMNTNFT issued a statement on March 31st explaining how they came to own the IP rights to the original TMNT cartoon which aired from 1987-1992. They assert that their rights were acquired by Squemme Productions and Fred Wolf Film (formerly Murakami-Wolf-Swenson) and are separate from the rights owned by Viacom/Recur. The statement includes a signed letter from Barnett law firm accompanied by a Tweet from their lawyer.
Maybe No Winners?
Although this might be the original cartoon’s first advance into NFT’s, Viacom's franchise is no stranger to the game. In addition to their Recur NFT’s, TMNT and Funko partnered with WAX Digital last year to release a series of TMNT trading cards. They were sold in either packs of 5 for $9.99 or 17 for $29.99, each card varying in rarity.
These digital cards are listed all over eBay ranging from $2-$40 each. Complete and unopened packs are listed as high as $150.They appear to exist mostly as an appeal to trading card enthusiasts, TMNT fanatics, and collectors. It doesn’t look like anyone has struck it rich from these TMNT Funko NFT’s but they may continue to accrue value.
It would be a heck of a scam if @TMNTNFT was to go through the trouble of creating fake documents and continuously wrestle with NFT vigilantes online, only to steal money from investors. If in actuality it is an honest and legal NFT project, @TMNTNFT will still likely suffer a large hit to their popularity and credibility from all of the commotion.
The recent trend of crypto/NFT scammers has made people vindictive and quick to blame projects with a hint of shiftiness. There is no word yet on how Viacom will respond to this project to substantiate the threat made by Trevor George. The NFT collection from the 1987 TMNT group is still expected to drop sometime this Spring, so only time will tell of their legitimacy.
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Featured Image Courtesy of: Viacom.